Varkala (Ker), Dec 30: In a veiled attack on BJP, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said that attempts were being made by "communal ideologies and individuals" to "capture" the legacy of renowned social reformer Sree Narayana Guru for political gain by spreading "prejudice and bigotry".
The comments by Gandhi during her visit to the Sivagiri mutt here in poll-bound Kerala came close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the mutt on December 15 to pay homage to Narayana Guru.
Modi had then hit out at the Congress over constant disruptions in Parliament, accusing it of making a "mockery of democracy" and deciding to "destroy" the country as it cannot reconcile to the Lok Sabha poll defeat.
Delivering her inaugural address at the 83rd annual pilgrimage at Narayana Guru's abode at Sivagiri mutt, Gandhi also said there were attempts to communalise the Guru's teachings and this amounts to 'betraying' him.
"I believe that there can be no greater betrayal of Sree Narayana Guru than the attempts being made to capture his legacy by communal ideologies and individuals whose motive is political power by spreading prejudice, bigotry and dividing our diverse society," she said.
Her comments assume significance against the background of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Sangam (SNDP) yogam, an organisation of the numerically strong backward Ezhava community, entering into a tie-up with the BJP in Kerala.
Narayana Guru had established the Sivagiri mutt--a major spiritual-cum-pilgrim centre of the backward Ezhava community in Kerala--as a prime symbol of social reformation and social equality. He always stood for one caste, one religion and one god for mankind. Gandhi said the Guru believed in respect to all faiths and motivated his followers to respect all religions.
In 1924, at a congregation in Aluva in Ernakulam he had stressed "the need to abstain from religious conflict and to promote universal peace, harmony and prosperity of all religions," she added. Narayana Guru's teachings of equality, liberty and social justice were of "vital relevance even today," she said, adding, "in fact I would say that they are (teachings) are more relevant today." Gandhi also said that it was sad that caste discrimination still existed in the country.
"Sadly caste discrimination still exists and we still have much work to do in the area. It is for all of us to work in fully eliminating discrimination in the country of any form. It is in our power to eliminate it," she added.
Reaching out to Ezhava community, she said the Guru was an "architect of spirituality and social reforms to whom spirituality means service of the poor and weaker and welfare of all humanity.
His wisdom continues to inspire millions all over." Without naming SNDP general secretary Vellapally Natesan, who has been warming up to BJP, she said "it would be complete negation of Sree Narayana Guru's teaching if it (SNDP) pursues political gains by a few of this noble organisation and stray from its principles and purposes (for which it had been established)."
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was denied an invitation to Modi's function on December 15 kicking up a controversy, said attempts to create division in the society in the name of religion, caste and creed should be challenged by upholding the ideologies of Narayana Guru.